It doesn’t get much more futuristic than this: As Ford increases its presence in Asia, Africa and other markets, the company is using Hollywood avatar animation technology to get a head start on virtual assembly lines.
“Ford is a leader in virtual technology,” said Allison Stephens, Ford ergonomics specialist with Vehicle Operations Manufacturing Engineering. “We combine Hollywood’s motion-capture technology with human modeling software in our Detroit labs to design jobs in Asia and around the world that are less physically stressful on workers. We adjusted the sizes of our Jack and Jill models to reflect the populations at our global plants so all our regions can benefit from what we’ve learned.”
Join Allison here on Thursday, June 2, 2011, at 2:00 p.m. EST for a live chat to discuss this technology and the impact it is having on vehicle manufacturing, safety and quality.
The new avatar was created using size and shape population data gathered from Ford assembly plants across the globe. By customizing these data, Ford researchers have created a manikin used in ergonomic assessments that employ motion-capture technology, the same type of technology that mesmerizes filmgoers in movies such as “Mars Needs Moms” or in games such as “Mortal Kombat.” Motion capture is a technology that digitally captures movement, making nonhuman characters appear more lifelike.
As Ford has added assembly plants around the world, Allison said, it was imperative the new manikin be standardized to give clear engineering direction while continuing to raise quality.
The digital manikin’s first global assignments are for new products planned for new assembly plants in China, the new Focus being assembled in Germany and the U.S., and the global Ranger being built in Thailand and South Africa.
The new effort is expected to help Ford continue impressive quality gains around the world. In North America, Ford has matched or beaten industry leaders in many independent quality measures. Ford also is seeing significant improvements in its European and Asia Pacific and Africa operations.